Over the last two 25 years, the idea of “Heimat” has seen a resurgence, both in the political sphere and in academic discussions (e.g., Confino 1997; Ecker 1997; Morleu 2000; Boa, Palfreyman 2000; Blickle 2002; von Moltke 2005; Gebhard, Geisler, Schröter 2007; Kanne 2011; Eigler, Kugele 2012; Eigler 2014; Plumly 2015; Aydemir, Yaghoobifarah 2018). Its renewed relevance, specifically in a German-speaking context, stems from many generations of German and German-speaking activists, thinkers, journalists, essayists, and authors that experience Germany as an exclusionary, homogeneous, at times even hostile country. But they also recognize and experience the potential of a diverse, post-migrant, heterogenous society – a society that they, in particular, help to shape.
This dichotomy was captured emblematically in the renaming of the German Ministry of the Interior to, informally, the “Heimatministerium,” on the one hand, and the essay collection Eure Heimat ist unser Albtraum (2018). This volume critically highlighted the problematic limitation of the concept, acting as a barrier to access and participation of people that disrupt the homogeneous ideal of German society. The editors of the essay collection, Fatma Aydemir and Hengameh Yaghoobifara, describe “Heimat” as something that signifies “the yearning for a particular ideal: a homogeneous, white, Christian society in which men have the final say and women worry about childbirth - where other realities of life simply find no place.” (9; translation by Cho-Polizzi, Transit 2021)
Our upcoming, peer-reviewed special issue of Konturen (http://konturen.uoregon.edu), entitled Neue Heimat(en), asks the question: can Heimat be more than this? With this question in mind, we aim at a renegotiation of the term. We ask if it is possible to reconceptualize and develop an understanding of “Heimat(en)” that is appropriate for, and supportive of, a global, heterogeneous, post-migrant Germany in the 21st century, allowing for an understanding that provides North American German studies with a renewed sense of the concept’s gravity, its dangers, and its relevance (or perhaps irrelevance). In so doing, we intend to create a tool box on how to discuss and understand “Heimat(en)” in light of diverse lived experiences and pressing questions of current times (ecological [anthropocene], social [anti-racist, post migrant, postcolonial], political,…).
Is it at all possible to renegotiate, modify, or transform Heimat to overcome the all too common (and very harmful) ‘them’ vs. ’us’ dichotomy in favor of an inviting and open concept, one that entails a ‘we,’ but a ‘we’ that insists both on its shared humanity and its individuality, one that emphasizes a co-belonging and co-habitation (Mbembe 2017) with all its diversity instead of a hierarchy? And what is the value of allowing for a concept that is multiple, a Heimaten? Is it perhaps only possible to resist against the inescapably romanticized nature of Heimat and its associations of homogeneity and a white, Christian unity (e.g., demonstrated by the exclusionary violence of organizations like Pegida) like Max Czollek argues for in Desintegriert euch (2018) or even rid our discourses of the idea entirely (Patrick Gensing, 2015; Bilgin Ayata, 2019)?
Our issue aims at transcending specific subfields and topoi and invites discussions of diverse positionalities, lived experiences, and approaches to a difficult concept. For this reason, we invite contributions on a range of topics that include but are not limited to:
- Decolonizing the canon in literature, poetry, theatre, film,…
- Perspectives of marginalized groups and their intersectionality: Black Germans/Black European, LGBTQ+, Turkish-Germans, Jewish people, Muslims
- Postcolonial & decolonial scrutiny of the concept
- Ecological perspectives on the concept (e.g., Anthropocene)
- Pan-European considerations
- “Heimat(en)” in translation (e.g., Homeland Security)
- “Heimat(en)” in political discourses
- Questions of accessibility (both institutionally and physically)
Anticipated timeline: Contribution proposals (max. 500 words) by August 1, 2022. First draft due on September 15. publication in late 2022/early 2023
Please send any questions or proposals to Joscha Klueppel, email@example.com